Saturday, August 25, 2007

Probably the best crispy duck in the world?

Many who know me are aware that I’ve never been a massive fan of Oriental food but if the general consensus is to eat at a Chinese restaurant I will concede and just hope that they do a good Peking Duck or Crispy Duck and pancakes. I’m sure there’s something else I would take pleasure in from a Chinese menu but as I have not enjoyed so many things I’ve been recommended I’d rather stuck to a dish that is tried and trusted. Though it is very true to say that I have had some good crispy duck and some very average. The only time I’ve been really disappointed is in a restaurant in Soho, it was late, there was a whole pile of us and I think they just assumed that we were drunk and would eat any old rubbish put before us. I wasn’t drunk and remember distinctly the ever so dry skinny duck carcass I was presented with that instead of yielding moist chunks of succulent duck just flaked to a pile of parched unappetising shards. And the pancakes were dry and tasteless also, the pancakes weren’t really rolling more like bending and snapping over the arid duck shreds. Not very pleasant at all!

Several years ago when I was last in Spain, we discovered a Chinese restaurant in Miami, Miami Playa before you think I’ve gone all disorientated and wandered over to Florida, USA. I'd entered with my usual trepidation but we delighted to find a Peking Duck and had enjoyed it. We often eat out in Miami whilst staying with P, T and B in their lovely big house equidistant between Barcelona and Valencia. As we drive there with the song “we’re going to Miami” playing in our heads and passing the local landmark of the ‘ladies’ perched on folding chairs on the side of the toll road waiting to entertain any passing motorists not really looking for food just outside Miami we are very hungry. We seem to have developed three stalwarts of Miami eateries. Firstly the place that does the rabbit and snails dish, Miami’s finer dining restaurant and enjoyed on several occasions. There’s the ever popular pizza joint that generally have to build up an appetite by queuing for but D, MC, LLcT and E(D) have already dined there on this trip so it’s the turn of the place we discovered last time, the unusually bright Chinese restaurant. Last time I was sat under the air conditioner unit that dripped unwelcome icing water on me throughout the meal and despite moving slightly seemed to follow me. This time being forewarned we avoided the tables on that side and secured a bizarrely decorated table in the middle. I’d had it last time so immediately went to order the Peking duck for me whilst E(D) ordered some chicken curry dish and everyone else split a banquet. This gave me the opportunity to see a plethora of Chinese dishes and whether I would consider an alternative to my duck. And I wouldn’t, it just seems that the gene that allows me to savour Oriental flavours is missing, I know I am in the minority and would always, always favour French, Italian or British food over either Chinese or Indian. Those parts of my culinary taste buds have never been tantalised and may always remain uncharted. I’m afraid wild horses wouldn’t make me eat a curry, and yes I’ve tried and yes I’ve been rather ill after the experiences. But anyway, back to the duck.

What delighted me on the last visit was the shiny extraordinarily shiny and plump bronzed duck which yielded glistening nuggets of the juiciest of meat. The pancakes were the fluffiest I’ve ever seen and seemed never ending. Maybe the pancakes weren’t quite as fluffy today as last time (I guess they’re not typically like that) but tasty nonetheless and the duck was so plentiful I couldn’t eat is all. The plum hoisin sauce was dark and rich and there were pleasing piles of spring onion slivers to join my delicious duck in their pancake rolls.

I think everyone relished their chosen meals but as always, each to their own. Rather curious to consider we are eating Chinese on our first night out together in Spain but we have decided that we will sniff out some great tapas we just haven't decided where yet.

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